Reaching the World Series is the ideal time for a franchise to celebrate and reflect on its tremendous history. Teams will trot out legendary players, big-name celebrities and even the president in order to rile up the home crowd.
This presents quite an opportunity for the Chicago Cubs. As everyone knows, the team hasn’t reached the World Series since 1945. A lot has happened since then, giving them plenty of opportunities to cash in on nostalgia.
One player who won’t be included in any of that is former outfielder Sammy Sosa. In an interview with Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal, Sosa admits he hasn’t spoken to anyone with the club in “about three years.”
The Cubs have not retired his No. 21 jersey. They have not invited him to throw out a ceremonial first pitch, or sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” or work with their young hitters. Sosa said about three years have passed since he had any kind of contact with anyone in the organization.
Sosa’s strained relationship with the team has been well documented over the years. Based on most accounts, it has more to do with his exit from the club in 2004 rather than his alleged steroid use. Sosa famously left the team’s regular season finale at Wrigley Field just 15 minutes after the game started. He never even put on his uniform, according to reports. That offseason, Sosa was traded to the Baltimore Orioles.
There were also stories about Sosa’s ego becoming a big problem toward the end of his tenure with the club. It was clear that Sosa rubbed some of this teammates the wrong way. That was made evident when one member of the 2004 team reportedly smashed Sosa’s boombox when he walked out on the club. Though it’s been over 10 years, it’s still unclear which player took the baseball bat to the boombox.
His fall from grace within the organization is somewhat surprising given how much he meant to them during the mid-90s and early-2000s. In 13 seasons with the Cubs, Sosa hit .284/.358/.569, with 545 home runs. You couldn’t step foot in Wrigley Field during the time without seeing hundreds of Sosa jerseys in the stands. Sosa is also credited, along with Mark McGwire, for bringing fans back to baseball during the incredible home run chase of 1998.
The steroid rumors have negatively impacted memories of that chase today, but recent history has shown fans are willing to forgive those issues. McGwire is now a respected coach with the San Diego Padres. Barry Bonds also rehabbed his image somewhat by returning to the game as the Miami Marlins’ hitting coach for one season.
With Sosa, it’s not about that. Despite the fact that few from Sosa’s era are still with the team, there’s still a fractured relationship. The World Series prevented the perfect opportunity from both sides to bury that hatchet, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen now.
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